Local Marketing for Franchises

Aaron Gilbreath | July 1, 2022

To reach local customers, franchises need to modify their national marketing for the community level

American consumers will buy enough cheeseburgers at a local franchise to support the national restaurant chain, but local customers will flock for localized dishes that speak to their regional identity and appeal to their unique taste. McDonald’s knew this when they unveiled a green chili cheeseburger in New Mexico, the state which produces the majority of the chilis in the United States. McDonald’s knew this when they unveiled a SPAM eggs and rice breakfast in Hawaii, where residents eat an average of six cans of that salted soul food for every man, woman, and child per year. And McDonald’s knew this when they started selling biscuits and gravy in the American South, which has strong attachments to that filling country comfort food.

This is hyperlocal franchise marketing. Rather than casting a wide net by simply maintaining the nationwide menu and one-size-fits-all marketing message for all potential customers, a national chain like McDonald’s can drive traffic to local franchises by catering to local communities’ distinctive cultures. Effective local franchise marketing celebrates who locals are, finds them where they shop and live, and serves them what they need — and locals don’t even know they want until they see it. Give them deals. Give them specials. Gather their contact information and market directly to them.

By customizing their national menus for distinct demographics, McDonald’s positioned themselves as fans and purveyors of local fare who truly see those locals, rather than a giant chain who treats everyone the same. But local marketing isn’t just for restaurant franchises. Local franchise marketing is essential for national brands’ success across industries, from retail to hospitality to financial services, and to businesses large and small.

How Franchises Market National Brands Locally

Local marketing is an important way for franchises to drive sales, create brand loyalty, strengthen trust for lesser-known brands, and elevate existing brands’ profiles. The most effective local marketing for franchises are highly targeted, optimized campaigns that cater specifically to a unique group of local consumers’ habits at specific touchpoints along the path to purchase. Delivering effective marketing messages to existing and potential customers means finding the online and offline touchpoints where the customers and franchise intersect.

Franchises’ local marketing strategy must ask: Where do customers do their market research and get recommendations? What social media platforms do they pass time on? Where do they encounter messaging at home and in public? Those are the points of access for franchises to reach local customers.

First, franchises have to get to know those customers.

How to Create a Local Marketing Strategy for Your Franchise

Your franchise’s customers are Googling specific products and services near their homes. They’re buying things at a big box store. They’re working remote in a coffee shop. They’re scrolling Instagram while waiting in line to pay for groceries. Targeting them with banner ads and billboards and direct email campaigns at once may be ineffective and a waste of employee’s time. Focus. One of the biggest mistakes franchises make in marketing is to advertise across too many platforms and use too many tactics. Engaging hyperlocal customers requires precision, so build a profile and target more specifically:

1. Target Audience

Who are they? What makes their lives different in Mississippi versus Maryland versus Idaho? In small towns versus big cities? Franchisees can create a customer profile by conducting an online survey, and by closely observing existing customers’ behavior in their stores. Franchisees may even directly ask customers in informal interviews.

2. Demographics

What are your customers’ ages, income levels, genders, and buying habits? Deepen your customer profile with detailed characteristics.

3. Pain Points

Identify what challenges your customers have that your franchise can solve. If you provide insurance, they may want the least expensive flood insurance in their flood-prone region. If you sell tools or sporting equipment, give locals snow day discounts to help them clear their snowed-in driveway and pass the winter days during school closures. Location influences identity. The challenges that their location creates may be business opportunities for your franchise.

4. Consumption Habits

When you know how your customers make buying decisions, you can customize your marketing activities to influence their customer journey. Which social media platforms do they spend the most time on? Do they like in-person events where your brand can have a presence? Do they do online research on smartphones more often than laptops? Do online customer reviews carry more weight to them than advertisements? And do they prefer video content to podcasts and traditional media?

5. Brand perceptions

Next, figure out what your customers think about your franchise and the national brand, and you can fine-tune your marketing further.

When franchises understand how customers spend their money and time, and they identify what happens at each stage in their local customers’ journey, they can shape that journey to move customers from one step to the next, from awareness to intent to purchase, and keep building brand loyalty after purchase.

Local Marketing Tactics for Franchises

Creating customized local products is one way franchises reach local customers. Other proven tactics include paid search campaigns, social media engagement, high quality digital content, and local deals and seasonal promotions available only at certain locations.

Franchises can market locally in the following ways:

Paid Search

When consumers search online for goods and services, they search for businesses located a few miles from their home, often typing some variation of “so-and-so near me.” 86% of total retail sales are still generated at brick-and-mortar locations. Paid search lets franchises capture those customers who are searching for stores near where they live. A local paid search strategy is designed to target potential customers within a specific region, and the tactic is ideal for franchises. Primarily, the strategy involves using local keywords and geo-targeting. Even with a modest budget, a local PPC campaign, or pay-per-click, can improve local marketing for franchises by allowing you to reach the right demographics.

Social Media

Marketing trends show local marketers recognize the power of social media to engage with prospects, and they use it to drive opportunities for their business. To get the greatest benefit from popular platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, businesses must post organic content, advertise, and engage with the online community, rather than rely on a single type of social activity. That requires national brands support their franchises through their local marketing programs. Using paid Facebook and Instagram advertising is an effective way to reach specific demographics online. When a Facebook user mentions a certain keyword in a post, such as “new home” or “new car,” ads can be triggered for home owner’s insurance or car insurance, helping local agents contact those prospects.

Unfortunately, too many local marketing programs fail to support social media in even limited ways. Many franchises aren’t sure which digital tactics are included in their programs. This is a missed opportunity. Social media can’t influence the customer journey if franchises don’t have the time or content to use, and if they don’t have the higher-level support and guidance to use social media effectively.


Franchises can generate excitement and traffic through local events such as grand openings and sponsorships. It gets customers face-to-face with the business owners and the brand. Events tie in with both traditional and digital media tactics. Franchises should promote their events on social media, and local newspapers and radio stations can promote local events and use positive word-of-mouth to help build trust with the local community.

Traditional Print Marketing

Although digital tactics allow you to target and gather data to optimize your outreach, traditional print methods like direct mail can work well for franchises in certain industries. Direct mail campaigns often require less effort, are less expensive and can still have significant ROI. In combination with specific digital tactics, print marketing can widen franchises’ reach while remaining precise.

Quality, Customizable Content

Many franchisees recognize that they need brand content to promote products and drive sales. In fact, most crave the high-quality content that is developed for national campaigns, because franchisees do not have the resources to create content themselves. But as brands develop national and campaign assets, many are not planning for local execution, so content that the brand provides often falls short of local partners’ expectations.

Franchises not only need high-quality content, they need it to be personalized and locally relevant. A sophisticated through-channel automation platform can provide data-driven content templates and the ability to include location-specific information and images to creates the personalization and relevancy that both franchises and consumers want.

Franchises Benefit From Local Marketing Platforms

Franchises trying to build a local customer base while keeping the national brand identity consistent need a local marketing platform. The reason: Scaling national to local successfully presents challenges around brand management, fund management, and marketing execution.

While franchises customize national marketing for hyperlocal communities, each location must stay compliant with the national brand’s identity, including the company logo, color scheme, mission, and message. Consumers prefer known brands that they trust, and local customers expect to find the national brand’s visual identity, quality products, competitive pricing, and customer service at their local franchise. But creating brand-compliant local marketing assets is challenging.

Franchisees aren’t marketers. They’re busy business owners, and in the day-to-day course of running their business, small errors occur. Outdated logos get used. Low-res images mistakenly end up in assets. Promotions get mixed up, creating pricing errors and customer confusion. A local marketing platform allows franchise owners to create and customize marketing assets for their own campaigns without straying from the national brand’s message and identity.

Brands who want to support their franchises with the right tools and infrastructure need to plan, enable, and execute local marketing in a way that maintains brand consistency. Marketing efficiencies through automation ensure that the programs and tactics are focused on shared goals.

By utilizing localized tactics that franchisees execute for their unique audiences, solutions such as BrandMuscle’s Intelligent Local Marketing Platform help franchises execute local marketing campaigns, reach local customers, build trust, and drive traffic.

Franchises That Succeeded at Local Marketing

To sustain its rapid growth, Duck Donuts needed to better support its franchisees’ marketing efforts. The company was seeking easy-to-use tools that would help franchisees boost brand awareness in their local communities.

Duck Donuts leveraged BrandMuscle’s Intelligent Local Marketing Platform, which reduced the need for corporate-generated, one-off, and custom marketing requests. Duck Donuts franchisees can now order in-store promotional signage and marketing kits, access brand-approved artwork and logos, and create fresh marketing assets quickly to drive traffic to their stores. The corporate marketing team has gained more time to focus on strategy and growth opportunities as a result of the efficiencies gained by using our platform.

Ready to Reach Local Customers and Stay Brand-Compliant?

Contact BrandMuscle to chat about how we can help franchises drive traffic while staying true to the national brand’s identity.

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